FIPS Compliance: Required for Cryptographic Communications

Communication systems secured via cryptography provide a wealth of benefits for your business. UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service), CCaaS (Call Center as a Service), and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) providers using this mechanism ensure improved confidentiality, data integrity, and nonrepudiation. Nonrepudiation uses information security measures such as encryption and digital signature to guarantee the safe transmission of emails and the authentication of digital contracts. Digital signatures could also help protect your sensitive information against fraud and spoofing.

To that end, cryptographic systems need to adhere to the highest level of computer security and cryptographic standards – FIPS compliance.

But what is FIPS compliance and why does it form an integral part of information security? Here's a closer look.

What Is FIPS Compliance?

Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) are guidelines designed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These guidelines are used to validate the efficiency of products containing algorithms and keys where security standards are subpar. FIPS applies to products that may transmit sensitive data like removable storage data, hard drives, and link encryptors. It was vetoed by the Secretary of Commerce and complements the Federal Information Security Management Act.

The publication FIPS PUB 140-2 highlights best practices and security standards necessary for working with algorithms, data buffers, and operating systems. The standards consist of four levels. Once a product has met these standards, it is FIPS-compliant and receives a FIPS-2 certificate. You can rest assured that if your product carries a FIPS 140-2 certificate, it has been tested and meets the highest security benchmarks of the U.S. federal government.

The following security standards are necessary for a product to become FIPS-compliant:

  • Level 1: Algorithms must be checked externally
  • Level 1: Equipment used to make the product has to be production-grade
  • Level 2: Products must have role-based authentication and be tamper-evident
  • Level 3: Products must have identity-based authentication
  • Level 3: Products must be tamper-resistant
  • Level 3: Private keys must be encrypted
  • Level 4: The product must be tamper-active and able to delete contents during environmental hazards

Other FIPS publications cover security standards for Decision Support Systems, Hash-Based Message Authentication Codes, Advanced Encryption Standards, and Secure Hash Standards. Federal agencies also use FIPS for the Personal Identity Verification of their employees and to meet security requirements for their information systems.

Why Is FIPS Compliance Vital to UcaaS, CcaaS, and VoIP Providers?

UCaaS provides adaptability for a unified or broad range of core business tasks requiring superior security standards to protect sensitive information. These tasks may include:

  • Video conferencing
  • Team collaboration
  • Corporate messaging
  • Telephony
  • Virtual meetings
  • Presence technology

UCaaS is highly integrative and could also include CCaaS features such as CRM, interactive voice response, and call routing. These encrypted communication systems need to adhere to FIPS to prevent potential security breaches by malicious third parties or adversaries.

Primary CCaaS services usually include multichannel customer support services such as:

  • Fax
  • Email
  • Text chat boxes
  • VoIP telephony and
  • Intuitive website interfaces

Interactions via these channels almost always include the transfer of confidential information, making security, again, a top priority. These systems should therefore also comply with a federal recommended standard such as FIPS to minimize security compromises.

Some Instances Where Security Could Be Compromised Plus Solutions

Video Conferencing

Teleconferencing security breaches usually occur when members do not know how to set up their devices, or when they connect remotely in public locations with unsecured WIFI. Using weak passwords could also increase the risk of security breaches. Members may not know how to set up teleconferencing on their devices and may unknowingly disable encryption.

8X8 offers its customers Virtual Office for a safer FIPS-compatible virtual meeting experience. The software enables you to easily set up your conference and screen-share your content for both Mac and Windows securely. If your meeting has already commenced, 8X8's software allows you to easily invite more members via a corporate directory and integrated presence, without launching a new meeting.

VoIP Hacking

Eavesdropping can occur when third parties listen in on unencrypted VoIP voice calls. Unsecured VoIP networks also increase the risk of toll fraud for customers. Adversaries could access risky networks and route several international calls through the customer's VoIP server, resulting in elevated phone charges.

8X8 offers a great solution for this with its hosted PBX service, the Virtual Office business phone module. It provides highly secured VoIP calls and can also help you reduce your phone bill by up to 50%.

Choose a FIPS-Compliant Communications Partner

FIPS compliance ensures top encryption security standards, as communications could easily become compromised by malicious third parties. It was developed by NIST and can be used in government and private sectors when there are subpar industry standards. UCaaS, CCaaS, and VoIP providers using it can enjoy superior confidentiality, less fraud and spoofing, improved data integrity, and non-repudiation.

8X8 offers some of the best FIPS-compliant products and services, guaranteed to lower security risks. Because while there may be no FIPS noncompliance penalties, not adhering to these standards places you at a higher risk for data breaches.

When it comes to security, 8x8 provides reliable and compliant cloud solutions at a demanding level rarely seen by other cloud providers. Don't take your chances with a subpar cloud-based telecom system. Call 1-866-879-8647 or fill out our online form to request a no-obligation quote from an 8x8 Product Specialist.

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